We have had great winter weather for humans, but a little more rain will be good for the fish. The San Lorenzo River has had extreme low flows for the month of January and, so far, most of February.
December and early January had a strong return of steelhead, but the February run of steelhead are trapped in the lower river waiting for more water. In the ocean, crabbing remains good, and sand dab fishing is great. Along the beaches, perch fishing is also very good.
Dungeness crabs are still coming into port from commercial and sport fishing boats. The catch has slowed down from the opener, although many crab pots have two to eight crabs in them. There are more small crabs, females and soft crabs mixed in the catch these days.
The great news in Monterey Bay is that sand dabs are delicious and caught in the same areas as the Dungeness crabs. Sand dabs have no limit. Anglers should catch what they can clean and eat.
Anglers have been heading in with 20 to 30 dabs a person, and the local charter boats are getting in on the sand dab action, too.
From the cliffs to the beaches, perch fishing begins to heat up in the spring. Barred perch — with red-tail perch mixed in — are biting well along the north coast beaches. Rainbow and rubber lip perch have been showing up along the cliffs and near the kelp beds. The beaches in Aptos have been good for a mixed grade of barred perch.
Anglers using mussels, shrimp and sand crabs for bait have been doing well on all species. The barred perch along the beaches have also been taken on artificial grubs.
Ocean fishing should remain good through winter into spring, when salmon season takes over. Hopefully we will get more rain for the river and its steelhead. This will help fishing and, more importantly, help the fish get farther upstream to spawn.
- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.